Western University and faculty union reach tentative agreement

Both sides had been in labour negotiations since June, with the union asking for job security for long-serving contract faculty as well as pay and benefits comparable to other post-secondary institutions in Ontario.

An agreement was reached two hours after the strike deadline

(Colin Butler/CBC)

Western University administration and the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association (UWOFA) have reached a tentative agreement, averting a faculty strike.

The deal was reached at about 2:00 a.m., after the strike deadline.

"The negotiating team felt that, along with the employer, we were close enough to get to a deal so we felt it was important to continue working hard at the table," said Dan Belliveau, Western University Faculty Association President.

"The students were our primary concern. We wanted to make sure that we were getting the best opportunity to give students the best educational experience and the deal that we were getting to offered that."

The tentative deal means all classes, labs, tutorials and research will continue as normal.

Both sides have been in labour negotiations since June, with the union asking for job security for long-serving contract faculty as well as pay and benefits comparable to other post-secondary institutions in Ontario.

If an agreement wasn't reached by 12:01 a.m., Friday, faculty staff would've hit the picket line. The strike would have led to class cancellations and bus detours.

The union, which represents about 1,650 full- and part-time faculty, demanded change after budget cuts over the last decade resulted in what they called degraded education and increased class sizes.

The union also asked for more job security for its academic staff, 70 per cent of which do not have security.

"I think the negotiating team can say that we achieved the goals we were hoping to get at this point," said Belliveau.

"We will put the deal to the membership and have the membership make that decision, but the negotiating team felt that our goals were reached."

Details of the tentative contract are not being released until the deal is ratified, which the faculty association is recommending. 

Western's faculty had voted 94 per cent in favour of striking in September.

Information about ratification votes has yet to come. If the deal is ratified by UWOFA, Western's board of governors will vote on it at the end of November. 

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